Trichomonas infection in a stock dove

Foto: W. van Kruijsbergen, Saxifraga

Photo: W. van Kruijsbergen, Saxifraga

In May 2010 a dead adult male stock dove (Columba oenas) was found in the Dutch town of Hilversum and the fresh cadaver was submitted to the DWHC for post-mortem investigation.

Macroscopic findings

The bird had a poor nutritional condition with few fat reserves and poor muscling. The skin and subcutaneous tissue of the neck were red and a lump of approximately 20x15mm was present in the throat region. On cut surface the lump was yellowy-brown and layered; similar material was found on several small lesions in the mouth. The beginning of the intestinal tract was empty and the rest contained yellowy-green material.

Foto: L. Begeman, DWHC

The neck of the dove with skin reflected; note the yellowy-brown dead tissue in the throat area. 
(Photo: L. Begeman, DWHC)

Microscopic findings

Cytology: An impression smear from the lesion in the throat contained bacteria and trichomonas parasites. The feces contained large numbers of oocysts (parasite eggs).
Histology: An extensive area of the crop mucosa was dead (necrotic) with infiltration of inflammatory cells and presence of trichomonas parasites. The liver was bloody (congested) and contained a large number of iron-containing cells (Kupffers cells, which are responsible for clearing up bacteria and damaged tissue). In addition, there was variability in the size of hepatocytes and inflammatory cells were seen. The brain and lungs were also congested and the lungs contained dust (anthracose).

Laboratory testing

The presence of Trichomonas gallinae was confirmed by PCR testing performed in DWHC labs [1].


The lesion in the mouth and throat caused by infection with T. gallinae is likely to have led to difficulties with eating resulting in weight loss and ultimately the death of this bird.


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